Talk Tuesday / An Easy Start in Concert Photography

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BY PATRICK QUIRING

So, you want to try your hand at concert photography? And let me guess, you’ve always wondered “how in the world do I even get up there, past the crowd, and into the sacred photo pit where I would be a couple of feet away from one of my absolute favorite artists”?

Well, have no worry because I’m here to be your Sherpa into taking the first step for getting into concert photography!

So, I will post a short outline of what you need to do first, and then I’ll go into greater detail below just in case you’re on a time crunch.

The short version:

  1. You need to realize that there isn’t a lot of money in this for when you first start out (It’s been a year for me, and I still have my 8 to 5 I go too if that says anything).

  2. Find a publication (you can do this through groups on Facebook, or going to publication website).

  3. Find artist you want to shoot.

  4. Go to their About section on their FB page, and find the press contact person. If it’s not there then you will just Google the musician and the words press contact to find the right person. Or you will have to ask around for it.

  5. Send the press contact a short and simple email stating you want to photograph this band on such and such date at this venue in this town, and who you shoot for.

    And that’s it for the short version!

 

If you want more of a detailed version of the steps then here you go:

First off, you will not be making a lot of money doing this artform when you start off. It will probably take a while before you make a dime, and It’s a super hard industry to break into so it’s definitely more about the passion then the money. Just warning you before you jump into this. There’s also going to be a lot of hours you will most likely put into this. It is definitely a blast though, and it is a rush when you’re in the photo pit.

Find a publication to shoot for. This can be either an online magazine, a blog, a printed magazine, or even your own website (when I shot The Weeknd the guy next to me was just shooting for his own personal website, which was crazy to me!)

If you don’t know where to find a publication at then I recommended trying to find a concert photography Facebook group. You could also try, and find a Facebook group that centers around the music you like. Now that you’re in a group keep your eyes peeled for people posting about needing photographers, or writers for their publication. For a while I saw a lot of people posting in these groups asking these kinds of questions, and is actually how I got my start doing this kind of thing so it definitely works. Just to warn you though, you probably won’t make a lot of money doing concert photography.

So, now you have a publication you’re shooting/ writing for. Hurray! Go you!

Now, you just have to find concerts to shoot, and my favorite way to do this is to go to Pollstar.com. It’s an amazing web page that shows concerts that are coming near you, and is super easy to use. It’s also a good idea to check out your local venues websites since Pollstar misses some shows sometimes.

So, now that you have the list of all of the shows coming near you that you want to shoot you have to now find their press contacts (some publications will have a person that does this, but that isn’t the case for everyone). This can be either super easy or super hard.

So when it’s easy this is what you do- you simply just research their Facebook (FB) page, and once you get there you go to their about section. On the about section just simply scroll to the bottom, and look for press contact. And BAM, that’s it! Pretty easy for find it, right??

Well, then there’s the hard way, which is unusual at times. So, since there is no mention of a press contact on their FB page you will have to go to good ol’ Google, and search the Internet. Just put something like “Musical group or musician” press contact. This has worked for me many times. If that doesn’t work then you should ask the staff at the publication that you shoot for, and they might be able to help you out. If no one there knows then I’d recommend going to a FB concert photographer group, and asking there. Most of the time they are nice, but sometimes there are some crabby people. Just make sure you state that you checked their Facebook page.

With the press contact in hand you will now need to message this person. I’d recommend doing this about a month from the show. When you write to them you don’t have to make it super long winded, and normally just stating the basics is good enough.

So things you want to cover are things like your name, who you are shooting for, the band, the date, town, venue, and give them some examples of your work (Flickr is a great place to start your portfolio). I just looked at my recent photo pass request for Run The Jewels, and it was about four sentences so it wasn’t anything fancy. Just be polite, and cordial, and hopefully it will all work out for you. You may have to email then again a couple of days before the show if you haven’t heard anything just in case your email might have fallen through the cracks.

And that’s it for me on this topic! Hopefully this has been helpful, and if you have any question then please let me know. Hit me up on the MNSTRM socials, or on Twitter at @PQMultimedia

ALBUM REVIEW: BRING ME THE HORIZON

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by Elizabeth Stafford

Pushing the envelope even further before and not caring who’s watching, Bring Me the Horizon recently released their new album, amo. It contains anything you could crave in a musical recipe, from electronic hooks to the exact heavy metal hints they drew you in with a decade ago. The whole album is a hypnotizing experience from start to finish, and it keeps you crawling back for more. If you’re an old fan pushing against the new sounds, the band quite frankly doesn’t care. They say so in the song, “heavy metal”.

10 years ago, death metal fans clung to BMTH’s single, “Chelsea Grin”. It became an anthem of angst and a cry for those who loved the heavy guitar riffs and screaming vocals. In the year of 2013, the band started to flex muscles of experimentation with their song, “Can You Feel My Heart” but still beautifully intertwined the hard-hitting melodies the crowds knew so well. Fast forward a couple years and they delivered the album, That’s The Spirit. This album contained the popular single, “Happy Song,” a song you would hearing at one hell of a haunting pep rally.

Sprinting full force through a decade of phenomenal growth, we now have the genius creations of songs such as “”MANTRA” and “nihilist blues”, the latter serving a tech-grunge edge with artist Grimes. The album provides listeners with a rollercoaster of emotions, speaking on topics such as broken love and the power of pure love. The band pulled a handful of tricks from under their sleeve and unapologetically slapped the world in the face with them. For that, I couldn’t love this album anymore than I do now.

This album is best served hot with a side of desire for musical bliss. You’ll be thrown into a whirlwind of fast drums and knocked sideways by the hymns of rock ‘n roll. Indulge in what you’ve been waiting for by giving amo a listen. If you’re still unsure of the new direction they’ve taken, it’s okay. They still have a whole hoard of followers ready for the next new thing.  


Barbara Witherow / Bobby Vaughn - The Promise Hero

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Starting over isn’t always the most ideal option when it comes to music, but sometimes it has to be done. Renaming yourself and keeping your previous music appears to be a bigger challenge. Instead of having a fresh start, Cleveland’s Bobby Vaughn has decided to rebrand his music under his name and continue to play The Promise Hero music in his set; and he’s been receiving a lot of questions as to why he wouldn’t just start over.

“I see it as a continuation,” Vaughn explains. “I see it as changing the name to Bobby Vaughn and anyone else I say this to they’re like, ‘No, you’re starting a new project.’ Truthfully I’m playing the same songs as The Promise Hero. I’ve been a solo member as The Promise Hero since 2011, so it’s been seven years by myself. I started off with four of us that were in it to win it and when a couple guys wanted to move to New York to do their own thing, I respected that, but I felt like I didn’t want to replace them until I found the right fit. It was something that I created with them so I felt weird doing that. I felt like nobody really was going to be their personality with what creativity they brought.  So I’ve been going solo since that other one guy faded away. I’ve been playing The Promise Hero songs solo and I’ve had friends join me onstage, tour with me, and ask me if they could be in my band and I’ve always said, ‘Let’s see what happens;’ next thing you know, I’m by myself again.”

Vaughn found inspiration to rebrand his music while on the road with Andrew McMahon in The Wilderness and saw the passion he wanted to present onstage while on the road with Shakey Graves.

“I worked as a roadie occasionally to make money and the first band I worked for was Andrew McMahon in The Wilderness. I would help build his piano everyday and I was his merch guy. I got to see what it’s like being a pianist on tour. Then I worked with another guy called Shakey Graves for the last four or five years and I was his guitar tech and merch guy and I got to see what it’s like to be a solid, amazing performer. I’m putting those two things together and I’m playing piano now and I’m trying to be a solid, entertaining performer.

“Similar to Andrew McMahon is he plays everything from his previous names as well, Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin. That’s his show, he pulls things from all his career and that’s where I feel inspired to do the same thing. I call it changing the name, but if people want to look at it as a new act, I’m not ditching anything that I’ve helped write and put out. I’m excited to just put it all together.”

Starting over would seem like an easier option when you’re going from a punk-rock full-band to just yourself and a piano, but Vaughn believes in his ability to captivate a room and have the audience enjoy themselves while watching him perform.

“I’m playing a quieter instrument. I guess because of my transition of having members; I was a loud punk-rock band in the beginning, but I guess going solo leaves me with only a few options, which includes, if I want to play on stage by myself, have backing tracks. I just decided I wanted to use a piano. Ultimately, with that choice, it’s going to sound different, but I definitely want to preserve the energy and the amount of excitement and entertainment you can get from a show. I want that same liveliness in my sets, somehow as a single person. That’s the challenge I have. I can’t say that I’m doing that. I don’t know if people would necessarily agree that’s what I’m doing, but that’s what I’m trying to do.”

“I want to rebrand as Bobby Vaughn because it clears up a lot of confusion or questions as to who’s in the band. It’s just me and I’m excited to continue on as just myself and whoever wants to join me for shows and have live, full performances with backing members, is something that I would love. And that’s where I’m at right now. Twelve years in the making.”

A Conversation with Ronan Harris of VNV Nation by Abigail Hamann

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What is your favorite song off your newest album 'NOIRE'?

I can’t say that I have a favorite. Every song is different and I love all of them for different reasons. I see the album as a single entity, self-contained, comprising many sides and emotions. It’s a journey, from start to finish. Some have described it as a musical book in a series of acts, others as a soundtrack from a film that hasn’t been made. It’s wonderful to know that the idea behind the writing and arranging of this album came across to so many.

What is favorite venue in Europe and in the US? 

I think each have their own great venues. The second last show on the European tour was at a venue in Hamburg called the Mehr Theater. It has to be one of the finest venues in Europe. From the quality of the sound to the atmosphere at shows, it’s ideal. As for North America, I can’t wait to play the Wiltern in Los Angeles. It’s a stunning art-deco palace that was almost torn down and miraculously survived. America has a beautiful collection of 30s Theaters that are architectural jewels. As a performer, I love getting to see them and hope they remain preserved.

What is your favorite thing to do on your off days?

Depending on where we are, and what’s there to see, I like to explore a town I haven’t been to before, go browsing in the older areas where all the eclectic shops are, with some of the crew. You find the weird and wonderful in the most unlikely of locations. We all seem to spend our time hanging out with each other and not isolating ourselves. Sometimes, you don’t get to stop in a town and have to stop somewhere where there’s just a hotel and not much else. Then it’s BBQ time :D

What was one of the best moments when you were recording your newest album?

Thinking back, the whole experience was better than any I’d experienced making an album. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all great experiences but this was particularly unique. I always tell people, when making an album, that the best track hasn’t been written and will happen late in the production. This is what happened with “When is the future?”. It just came out of nowhere and had to be the song we made a video for.

What is one of the best fan moments you have an encountered in all your years of touring either randomly in the cities you've been to or at a meet and greet?

If you’re familiar with VNV’s Music and what it means to our fans, you know that it’s very personal to them. It inspires them and helps them through difficult times. It’s not self-sympathy, more a case of overcoming adversity with the help of a rallying call, and being a better and wiser person for it. At meet and greets, people share the most heartbreaking or smile inducing personal experiences. I’ve met people who told me that listening to an album over and over, while recovering from a major setback or injury, got them up and moved them forward. I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity to be a part of someone’s life in being able to inadvertently do that. I meet people who’ve named their children “Ronan” because of VNV, which is a very humbling thing to hear. People tell you how they met at their shows and got married to your music. Some just need to talk and feel alright or better about themselves. Everyone has a story and an experience to share and I’m more than happy to take the time to listen and talk with them. I feel it’s my responsibility and duty to them, for their support and dedication, but it’s a sincere pleasure, not a task. I wouldn’t swap what I do with anyone else’s job, for the world. 

What is your most cherished song to play live on your current album?

The first song of the show, “A million” gives me chills, whenever I hear it. I love the slow burn, sinister build. You see the effect on people, who are either only hearing it for the first time, or experiencing it for the first time live. It’s hard to pick one. The finale of the night, “All our sins” has an incredible impact too.

What is the most beloved moment you've had being a musician?

All of it. It has grown me in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and afforded opportunities I’d never even contemplated. It has enriched me. Meeting people and talking with them is easily my favorite thing. I get to do that all the time. Making music that moves me is right up there. Playing shows and seeing people lifted up and get out of their shells or who’re just purely enjoying the moment is bliss. There’s a lot of hard work involved but the rewards, some of which I’ve listed in earlier questions, make every effort and any stress worthwhile.

If you could make a collaboration with any artist who would it be and why?

A vocal duet and electronic team-up with Imogen Heap because she’s an incredible creative force. An ambient track with A winged victory for the sullen because their music moves and inspires me in ways most artists don’t. A techno infused track with Vitalic because he’s the best. An orchestral track with the LA Symphony Orchestra because it would be epic. A lounge jazz track with some artists who are no longer with us because some moving outside of your genre and bridging your music with a completely different style of music promises incredible results. Some electronic fun with Jon Hopkins because he paints soundscapes like few ever have.

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Album Review: Boston Manor - Welcome to the Neighbourhood

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Album Review by Jacob Cornell

Blackpool five-piece Boston Manor has returned this year with a follow up to their 2016 album, Be Nothing. While this solid release earned Boston Manor a wave of new fans as well as a “pop punk” label, it was no secret that this label is not something the band was fond of. Lead Vocalist Henry Cox hasn’t been shy about expressing his dislike of that label, either.

While the band’s newest effort, Welcome to the Neighbourhood certainly stands out for a number of reasons, its departure from the “pop punk” label is the most notable and refreshing.

Welcome to the Neighbourhood’s title track and album intro is a terrific peek into the album’s brooding tone as well as the album’s diverse lineup of tracks. Every track on this release brings something new and different to the table. Some tracks, such as “Flowers in Your Dustbin” or “Tunnel Vision” serve to keep the bands to their pop punk roots, while some cuts like “England’s Dreaming” or “The Day That I Ruined Your Life” show off the band’s new direction extremely well. My favorite song on the album, and coincidentally a good middle ground between old and new directions, is the album’s lead single, “Halo.” It’s truly a sing-along ballad with one of the catchiest choruses in recent memory.

Cox tweeted, just before the release of genre-mates (and regular mates) Trophy Eyes’ The American Dream:

While not only can I not recommend both of these new releases enough, I could not possibly agree more with this sentiment. Welcome to the Neighbourhood’s release was timed perfectly, with the temperature slowly dropping and fog starting to roll in late into these late summer nights. This album is something that’s definitely best experienced driving in the dead of darkness, which luckily enough is how I lined up my first listen. If there’s any album that’s going to make you want to throw on that beanie and cuff your pants a few times this winter, this is the one.

Jacob Cornell / Let's Talk About Stream Trolling

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If you search the phrase “stream trolling” just about anywhere on the internet, you’ll find annoying compilations of video game streams and obnoxious bass-boosted songs intentionally meant to be bad. That is not what I’m talking about today. “Stream trolling” in the music world is a fairly new term coined by online music critic Anthony Fantano. Stream trolling, in this sense, refers to stretching out a music project (such as an album or mixtape) by filling it with extra tracks, usually of questionable quality, to extend the run time and elicit more streams from listeners. The more tracks on a project, the more streams from fans and critics alike – and the more money the artist makes from streaming their music. Stream trolling is not adding three or four throwaway songs to an otherwise solid EP to make it into a full album—it’s taking an otherwise solid music project of standard length and adding, for example, ten songs and an extra hour of unnecessary content.

I’m not saying this is a common practice by any means. The practice of stream trolling has become more obvious within the last 2-3 years, due to the industry becoming more accepting of streaming services as a means of music distribution. The practice of stream trolling has only presented itself within the rap community recently, most notably on Atlanta rap trio Migos’ brand new album, Culture II. Culture II was released at the end of last month, to very mixed, (mostly indifferent) reviews as a follow up to last year’s smash success. On the topic of the Culture II, Meaghan Garvey for Pitchfork wrote “Where Culture was an event, its follow-up feels more like an occurrence, the quality of its songs handicapped by an album that plays like a long and formless grab bag.” The reason behind this is the unnecessary length of the album. While Culture had a fairly standard 13-track, 58-minute runtime, Culture II weighed in at a hefty 24 tracks with 106 minutes of runtime. 

Am I saying that Migos released this album with all of these bloated, unnecessary tracks on it only to make more money from streams? Absolutely not. Stream trolling isn’t a singular reason to release an entire project, but it’s a structural difference to the way a project is handled for release and perceived as a whole. I don’t think they intentionally released an album hoping to get an extra 10 streams out of each fan, but the current pay model for these streaming services doesn’t exactly discourage this business model. Most streaming services pay artists (although a reportedly miniscule amount) per stream. Even if an artist is only making fractions of pennies off of each unique stream, an extra 10 streams from every interested listener adds up. It’s the music equivalent of a clickbait YouTube video or all those annoying “listicle” websites the internet has thankfully been leaving behind the last few years.

 

Stream trolling isn’t just something Migos is guilty of, it’s becoming more normal every day in the rap community. Last year Drake released More Life, the 22 track song 82 minute runtime “playlist” follow up to his 2016 20 track album, Views. While some publications just called the project what it was, a mixtape, there was a lot of discussion within the critic world as to why the project was released and marketed as a “playlist.” While the “playlist” had a few standout songs, (mainly just the singles) More Life felt more like a B-sides release to accompany the commercial “meh” that was Views than a project that held water on its own. Again, do I think Drake released More Life as a way to troll for extra song streams? Not entirely, but its 22-song track list filled with mostly forgettable songs is anything but discouraged by the music industry’s current streaming payment model.

According to superstar producer, rapper, and household song intro tag, Mike WiLL Made-It, Rae Sremmurd’s next project released will actually be a “triple disk” record, confirmed later on twitter by Swae Lee of the rap duo himself. I’m not even going to begin to count the number of songs Berkley rapper and Extremely Rare Based God Lil B has released, but between his 10 studio albums, 49 mixtapes, and one EP, he’s released a significant number of tracks. This business model, while certainly giving artists a leg up on an industry designed to take advantage of them, is leaving fans with watered-down music releases as a result. Rather than taking simply gaming the system by released bloated albums or mixtapes, let’s just work on reforming the industry to more account for the musical behemoth that is streaming. Stream trolling is a business model that isn’t going to go away any time and soon and will present itself more and more in the coming years. If we want to continue to have thoughtful music projects released from our favorite artists, both fans and critics alike need to be more proactive in calling it out when they see it. 

Patrick Quiring / Neo Romantics Interview

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Hey guys! How’s it going today?

I'm doing very well, thank you for asking. 

So, who all am I talking to today?

Just me, Hagen. 

Oh, cool, cool. So, what exactly are your positions in the band and what do you do?

I'm the lead vocalist and I play a bit of guitar as well. Daniel Anthony Castleberry is behind the drums. Cody plays guitar as well, and Noah is our bassist. 

What is your favorite part about being in the band?

I think being a part of not only the scene here in Tulsa, but a community that stretches all the way across the country has been a hugely rewarding for us. There is so much hospitality and kindness out there and we've made lifelong friends going out and playing shows across the country. 

What were you doing before you joined NeoRomantics, and how did you meet each other?

I met Anthony back in 2013 and kind of pitched the idea for NeoRomantics. We were attending the same community college at the time and we had both graduated from the same high school. That said, we only sort of knew of each other at the time. I think we connected through some mutual friends, or maybe the internet, I don't really remember. We immediately hit it off and have been best friends ever since. It was really serendipitous that we have such creative chemistry, considering it was kind of a shot in the dark at the time. Noah and Cody jumped on over the summer, as fill ins, for our headliner, at The Vanguard and we were so pleased with their performance that we immediately asked them to jump on board the project. We knew creatively that they would be a valuable asset, not to mention how infectiously ambitious they were. It was really refreshing, adding them to the lineup and it really pushed me a lot. Stylistically, it gave me a lot of context as to where to push the new record. 

Have you guys always been involved in music? What inspired you to choose this path?

NeoRomantics was my first band, and prior to that I really wasn't involved in the scene at all. I grew up singing, in fact, I can't really remember a time when I wasn't. I sang in church and in elementary school honor choir and all of that. I feel like my parents really opened up that creative outlet and encouraged me not to forget that I had a voice. It seemed to be this sort of cathartic thing that I could fall back on but it wasn't until I was a young adult that it sort of hit me that it was what I wanted to do in any serious capacity. I can't really remember what the catalyst was, for starting Neo. For me, it just needed to happen. As far as the other guys, I know Anthony has been playing since he was little and played in the school band and that sort of thing. Cody and Noah started out in their formative years as well and have been in loads of bands. 

Do you think the Tulsa scene has evolved over the years, or has it stayed the same? If it has evolved then how so, and where do you see it in the next 10 years?

I definitely think it's ever evolving. Anthony and so many others have done some incredible work for the scene and I think it's stronger than ever. The bar scene is huge here and it's starting to become a DIY haven, in my opinion. We have a loads of formidable acts drawing new people into venues at home, and getting out on the road and representing Tulsa on tour. 

How would you improve the scene?

I mean, I think the people who are working actively for the scene in Tulsa are doing a proper job. We just need to continue to push each other. We need the bands on the forefront of the scene to continue making waves nationally and internationally. I don't have a lot of negative criticism really, I think it's just important that we all do our part in making sure that Tulsa's scene lives up to its potential. So long as things continue to grow and flourish the way they have, I think we are going to have a really massive, influential scene here in the near future. 

So, when you guys write songs how does it all come together?? Like is it lyrics first, or instrumentals?? How long do you think it normally comes up with a song? What’s been like the longest it’s taken to write a song, and what’s been the shortest?

I don't think I have any particular routine as far as songwriting goes. It's an ever evolving process for me, which sometimes makes things more difficult as far as continuity goes, but I also has a tendency to make things more interesting in the long run. For this record, the song that's taken the most amount of time, is an untitled song that we currently call "Chicago Song" that I wrote about balancing tour and your life at home. It has a bunch of time signature changes and stuff and it took us a bit to sort of nail everything down. The song was on a loop in my head for like a week in between rehearsals. We toured it a little bit but I don't think it had reached its full form until the other night in Tulsa. The song that's taken the least amount of time? There's another untitled track that pretty much wrote itself. I wrote the song back in April on the acoustic guitar and had been thumbing around with how to use it in the context of NeoRomantics. Towards the end of one rehearsal, I just starting picking it and playing it to myself while people were starting to load up. Everyone heard it, plugged back in, and we played the entire song without breaking on the first try. 

What’s your favorite song that you’ve written with NeoRomantics, and why is it that?

It's hard to pick favorites. It's like a parent picking which of their children they like the most. I think there is an aspect of nostalgia that comes into play when you're playing songs you wrote when you were 18. There are so many memories buried in them. Then with the newer stuff, it's fresh and exciting to showcase where you're at now. I think on the last run I enjoyed playing the aforementioned, "Chicago song" the most. 

What are you guys currently listening to right now?

I have a playlist I've been spinning a lot that has a bunch of Life Lessons, and Salt Creek, and Embracer, some regional bands we've come across that are killing right now. 

What’s been the hardest and most difficult part of playing in a band? On the opposite what’s been the most rewarding and fun?

At least for me, balance, probably. It's easy to let it consume all of your energy. That said, I think we handle it all pretty well. Being gone, even for the short amounts of time that we are can weigh on you. We are all really family oriented and being away can feel tough sometimes. As far as the most rewarding? At the risk of sounding pretentious, I think there are people who are really intrinsically connected to what we do. Like our music defined a certain time in their life and hearing people tell you that it made an impact on them really drives me to continue to do it. 

I’ve heard that you’re going to be releasing an E.P. this summer. Could you talk about that a little bit? How will it differ at all from your past efforts if it will at all?

Probably closer to spring time, actually, but yeah. This record is really interesting because in essence, we really turned the entire process that we used to write our last record on its head. I generally come up with a concept and map out the skeleton for the song, and the guys picks those songs up and filling in all of the blank spaces and embellishing it. Cody and Noah and Anthony are all creative forces, and they all bring someone unique to the table. I'd say that topically, it's a lot looser conceptually and less melodramatic which I think added an entirely new dynamic, and ultimately made it more intimate for me. It forced me to evaluate myself through clear eyes rather than just bearing all of my heartache in every song. Being our first release in about two years, I think the growth in maturity that you'll see from Anthony and I will be stark. I also think sonically you're going to hear a pretty clear shift. I think we've focused a lot more heavily on texture and tone and production on this record. 

Where do you wanna NeoRomantics next? Like is there a tour coming up soon, or anything

As far as what I want for NeoRomantics? I want to tour with my favorite bands and put out as much new music as possible. Everything that we've ever really wanted to do seems more viable every day. We've been working for four years to get to this point and now that we have traction, we aren't slowing down for anything. As far as what we have coming up? We have a tour coming up within the next few months, but unfortunately, I can't talk about the details yet. It's a big one for us though. 

Last thing I have to know is how did you guys come up with that amazing stage move you did last Saturday night where the lead singer lifted the bassist in the air and turned him upside down? What’s the story behind that if there is any at all?

I wish that I could take credit for coming up with that, but I had seen bands do similar stuff before ever trying it. It's always worked well for me because I'm a pretty big guy and our bassists for the most part have been light and easy to toss around. We've been known to do some wild stuff on stage. 

Anything else you'd like to tell our readers about you, NeoRomantics, or anything else we didn’t cover?? 

Uhm, I would say go listen to our new single 'Concentrated'. It's on all major media platforms now. Make sure to look out for upcoming tours and try and catch us live. We'd love to meet new people and make new friends. 

Well, thanks so much for taking your time, and talking with MNSTRM Media! We really appreciate it, and can’t wait to see what’s next in store for you guys!

Who is PnB Rock? The versatile Philly artist with superstar potential

This is a repost of an Original Article by BY JESSE VARGAS of kulturehub.com, original article can be found here.

So I know you’ve heard “Too Many Years,” or better yet “Selfish” by the lanky light skin that’s seemingly taking over the charts — PnB Rock.

That was a while back, so by now you’ve definitely peeped his “Unforgettable” remix that we can’t get out of our heads or maybe even his second studio album “Catch These Vibes” that just dropped late last month.

All I know is this man is next up — you tell me the last time you heard an artist this versatile with the same finesse as Drake?

Rakim Hasheem Allen, better known as PnB Rock, isn’t just a music genius. He’s a Philly bred fashion icon and future star in the game.

He’s a trendsetter — the reason behind when you hear “Louis X Supreme” your next thought is “that’s limited edition” and why your girl is pressing you to be selfish all the time.

Now Rock’s always had that sound, since day one, but what we don’t know is how he developed it to become the idol that so many are looking up to today.

I swear I haven’t seen another artist rap AND sing with the same quality as Drake, since DRAKE. And these two aren’t even comparable.

Whether it’s a smooth cuffing melody or some authentic trap music, Rock’s got hands in them all. Out of his three songs that made the Billboard charts, how do ALL THREE give you different vibes?

Everyday We Lit” is a soul-hitting track featuring PnB Rock that gives you no extra energy other than to be successful. I want to hear the struggle and I want to hear the outcome, and he makes sure to leave listeners with all this in mind.

There are 10,080 minutes in a week, and besides being lit, I think we all have an idea how he spends ’em to be one of the hottest new artists out.

I don’t think I have to say much about this song besides the fact that ya girl sings along to it weekly. The same way Bey had girls going wild after Lemonade, Rock had girls wishing they had a man that was everything he talked about being in “Selfish.”

What’s unique about PnB Rock is that he genuinely addresses all the obscure, real issues people deal with, especially in his more melodic songs about women. It’s not all Trigga Trey “Slow Motion” and not all Chris Breezy claiming “these hoes ain’t loyal.”

Rock gives a sense of authenticity that’s pretty rare these days in this industry of mumble rap. For starters, you can’t classify him to a single box — he’s way too versatile.

You can’t say much about a rapper/singer that talks about everything from the struggle to the come up, and stardom. Some artists move out the hood and never look back, but it’s different for Rock.

In an interview with Atlantic Records, they put PnB Rock at the center of attention answering some questions about his life. When asked where he got the name “PnB” from, it was simple:

“PNB STANDS FOR PASTORIUS AND BAYNTON, IT’S MY BLOCK IN GERMANTOWN. PRETTY MUCH EVERYBODY AROUND MY NEIGHBORHOOD GOT PNB IN FRONT OF THEIR NAME.”

He’s not in it for the brand new lifestyle of fame and doesn’t want to leave his day ones, which isn’t just respectable, but admirable. Think about how many A$AP Mobs there are out there, because it’s uncommon. Drake talking about “No New Friends,” but the only Canadians we see him with are the Weeknd and Nav.

According to The Fader, Rock was raised in and out of shelters with his single mother and four siblings.

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His father wasn’t around so he looked to his uncle for that foundation, but after his murder, 15-year-old Rakim quickly hit the streets. A couple years later, he was locked up for about 33 months for selling drugs and robbing people, but that was just the beginning.

If you can imagine the scene from “Notorious” when Biggie was locked up, we got to see and understand the time progression and how much effort he really put into songwriting on his dolo. It was the same for Rock, spending his time tirelessly writing tracks inspired by the life he once lived as a kid roaming the rough streets of Philly.

When he got out of jail, he caught a buzz dropping two tapes, but got roped back in by the system around 2014 when he broke probation for leaving his halfway house without permission.

What gave him a lil’ more than “just a buzz” was his video for “My City Needs Something” being aired on MTV while fans rallied, starting the #FreePnBRock trend on social media.

The video depicts Rock with his crew backing him in his Philly territory. He talks about having no help from the cops because they were doing more bad than good, and even shows a kid getting shot playing ball. He put it simply:

“PEOPLE WERE DYING, PEOPLE WERE GETTING KILLED BY THE COPS… IF I LISTEN TO THAT SONG, I’LL CRY.”

According to Complex, Rock flexes his PUMA partnership, Billboard Hot 100 hits, and a sweet spot on this past XXL Freshman Class.

“WE’RE GOING TO HAVE OUR TIME. PNB IS LIKE A MOVEMENT, A WHOLE MOVEMENT IS GOING ON.”

On top of his latest hot album, “Catch These Vibes,” Rock’s a smooth fashion icon in the making, if not already. In the weeks and days leading up to the release of the album, he posted wild flics wearing the flyest brands.

But that doesn’t knock him too far base from his roots. He constantly references his home in Philly and leaves everything on the track with “Pressure” off his latest album.

He reminisces about his brother who was killed, his boys who got caught up in the system, his mom, and his daughter Milan, giving listeners a real taste of the real him.

He prides himself on authenticity and that’s what’s lacking in a lot of artists these days.

It gives him a relatability unlike most other people, let alone artists. He puts his heart and soul into his art and that’s why he’s made some Hip Hop and R&B hits that will stay in your playlists for years to come if we’re being honest.

We need more artists like Rock willing to use their voice to educate the youth, by relating to them and showing by example what happens when you put your grind first.

I don’t think we could ask for a better message for the youth right now. Rock knows exactly what this generation goes through which is why they rally behind him.

Lyrics aside, Rock knows how to connect with us on this insanely personal level by being exactly who he is. He manages to essentially succeed at life while dealing with the constant pressures that society puts upon him all while never changing who he is.

The way he’s giving love back is even more lit, going city to city covering both coasts, stopping by schools and turning up with college kids.

The tour kicks off this February with up and coming artist Lil’ Baby so you already know I’m hype to see what PnB Rock has in store for us and you definitely should be on the lookout too.

Cop your tickets here.

Elias Mohr / Do What You Love, Love What You Do

Though my time and experience on this planet of ours has been brief, and though I’ve many paths left to trek (and am working on paving my own), I realize that I have journeyed on a path shared by most. That path is one of devotion to what may be right in the eyes of others, of your peer group, of society, and so ourselves; yet one that is ultimately wrong for you. We’ve all wasted our truly precious time in fruitless, toxic relationships; holding on by the threads of our thin, frayed heartstrings, clutching to the hope that something, anything, will change and mend us. We’ve spent countless hours at a job that views us as simply indentured servants, or on a career path that’s been beaten by security and toleration instead of daringness and passion. I, like so many of us, have ventured on and these fools’ errands. However, somehow, somewhere, after running back to base from one of these many outings, I hit a crossroad. I stopped in my tracks. I looked left, then right, then left again. I glanced over my shoulder. I then looked forward, blankly, dazed, confused. And at once, an insatiable need drove me to leave my base behind, to start anew with nothing but the wind in my face and the clothes on my back. So, I bolted from that crossroads into the dense forest adjacent to it, and I’ve been running ever since. 

The base I’m referring to is of course the hub in which my now forsaken worldview once existed. A worldview that consisted of constant self-sacrifice. A worldview shaped, molded, and manipulated by those many preconceived notions and values practiced, but not my own, that were gathered and soaked up by the sponge that was my influential, naïve heart. A worldview that allowed the harmful, ignorant opinions of peers, the commands of my elder confidants, and senseless perceptions of my surroundings guide my mind. Yet would not let the voice that controls its every act give its input. The foolish pursuits I lost myself in were in all the aspects of the previous paragraph. I tried to love and save a toxic girl from herself, who although lusted, did not love me back. I was intentionally blind to that and would come back to base to re-evaluate at every instant reality crept its ugly form into my mind. I stood my ground in an occupation where any ounce of compassion was maliciously milked from my soul and used for the most wolfish of purposes. Where the only reward I reaped was a new sense of jadedness and a profound opportunity to witness corruption in its most raw form. I attempted to conquer a field of work in which I received no satisfaction. One that would bless me with security, but tear at me with its monotony. Luckily, I failed at or left these pursuits, and each time ran back to base to consult what I thought was myself. It was then, after all of this, I left that base for the final time and wandered onto a crossroads. 

Just before I bolted to make my own path, in that state of sudden confusion, I finally let that voice in my head that had been repressed for so long speak. I can’t remember for the life of me what it said that caused me to run off on my own, but I’d like to think it let me know that I couldn’t continue filling other cups if mine were empty. And oh, how nearly empty it was. So, I feel I sprinted off to fill my cup for once, and I’ve been trying oh so hard to fill it since. On my own path so far, I’ve taken in so much. I’ve been living for myself. I’ve realized my own values and put them to practice. I’ve accepted my true worldview from the ruins of my fool’s errands: do what you love, and love what you do. Love who your heart wants to, not who you think it needs to. Stop wallowing in the suffering of your current situation. Despite what others may think or feel, change it. Seek something you feel is worth devoting your time to. Quit pursuing what you think is security and opt out for what brings light to your eyes. I’d never dare to say that it’s easy, but leave your base, find your crossroads, and beat your own path.       

Elias V. Mohr / Pursue Your Passion, Please… For the Sake of Your Health

photo  Anthony Tran

photo Anthony Tran

As a creative individual, I have my fair share of hobbies that relate to the creative process. It’s especially self-soothing to create music. And I, for sure, enjoy tinkering around with various technologies and devices. I have even dabbled with woodworking, sewing, braiding bracelets, etc. However, my true passion, my God-given gift (I’m not bragging, everyone has one, even you) is writing. By God, my love for the art is nearly impossible to explain in a coherent way. Hell, even if I could, I feel my surely affectionate expression would fall short of exhibiting the feeling justly. How exactly does one determine their true passion, or gift? Well, I’m sure there are a plethora of ways to pinpoint what exactly your gift is. My light-bulb moment came to me rather simply, and through years of self-refection and analyzation. I discovered, through my own introspective filters, that if I cease to write, I feel sick. Yes. I literally begin to burden both mental and physical ailments. My mind becomes both an overdriven turbine of which senseless thoughts circulate in an endless loop, and a massive swamp, so stagnant in its murky, unambitious layers. My body aches, it’s always fatigued, and saturated with lethargy, lest I write. If I refuse to write, my being exhorts the little frustrated energy it has left into conjuring another, promisingly unsuccessful outlet. How did I come to conclude these symptoms were the result of myself not satisfying what is quite honestly a need and not just, say, depression, or some weird-boy form of hypochondriasis? I’ll show you.

I fell in love with writing at fourteen. It began so suddenly, and with a beautiful aggression. I wrote anything and everything. Poems, romantic sonnets (oh yes, having a command over language is extremely beneficial… in every area), short stories, songs, even made a few attempts at a novel. I wrote quite frequently until the age of eighteen, in 2012. Then… life suddenly become a creative wedge, a thread-cutter of sorts. At the time, I was willing myself to balance both high school and college classes. I had begun my second serious romantic relationship, later, my first taxed occupation, and eventually, full-time college classes. Life was quite eventful at eighteen. Even in this midst of productivity and perceived happiness, I was frustrated and mildly depressed.  I had no moment to spare for my creative endeavors, until, eventually, I was laid-off from my job, and then dropped out of college. I had much more time for personal affairs, and thusly, my writing. Were these events discouraging in nature, did I feel as though I was failing tremendously? Of course. Yet, I was filled with the fuel of the fire that is suffering. I was able to express myself in my favorite art form, and for that, I was grateful.

Fast-forward to the Summer of 2015. I have been writing quite frequently for some time. Especially about forthcoming events I had envisioned. My romantic relationship was on the brink of destruction, I was working a meager fast food job, making little money. On top of it all, my home life was in an equal state of chaos, despair, and fear. Amidst it all, I was engaged in my art with such ferocity that I felt whatever I penned burned the paper on which it was printed. It was my way of escaping whatever conflict surrounded me. Once the conflict came to a climax, and after the dust settled, I took to action an actual act of escapism. I uprooted where I had been for nearly a decade, and decided to move in with a group of like-minded peers, to avoid the terror of facing and solving my issues. 

 

 

Shortly thereafter, I abandoned the pen for a PBR. For nearly a solid year and a half, I sought out nearly every other form of sensory pleasure possible, other than the one I knew and needed. For a great amount of time, most of that seeking was done with a stumbling gait and in a perpetuating stupor. Long after the conflict and despair of the previously mentioned events dissipated, I felt strangely physically uncomfortable and mentally unstable (and yes, even when I eventually lessened my intake of liquid bread). Finally, within the next several months, I started producing more poetry, and to my subconscious’ expectation, I felt more than content. Unfortunately, this lasted only a short while, and my expression faded with the invasion of reality and brutishness. 

Coming to recent past, this past Summer, in fact, I picked the pen up yet again. I began putting forth effort unlike any measure before into my art. I was both reading and writing with an inexplicable quenchless thirst for the activities. It brought me so much joy and ignited so much wonder that I refused to stop ever again. Yet, I did. This time, with a purpose in mind. One day, I simply stopped. Over the course of the weeks following, I began seeing and feeling the symptoms I described at the beginning of this essay. They’re extremely subtle, faint, covered by every other active ongoing in the mind and body. Suddenly, one morning, sitting at my table, drinking coffee, I had the most curious and wonderful epiphany. I asked myself how long I had been experiencing these spiritual droughts, if you will. Has this been present all along, over the course of my inactivity in my passion? As any sane person would do, I began to research as to whether this is an actual phenomenon within creatives, or if I’m just a fucking emotionally inept basket case. After some light research, sure enough, these feelings were validated. Authors such as Ray Bradbury, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Stephan King suffered the same sort of light turmoil when inactive. The creators’ desolate feelings when not creating are not limited to the scope of penman, either. 

Musicians, painters, photographers, any creator is subject to the same emotional destitution, if not working with their gift and passion. Upon discovering this, confirming my hypothesis, I understood all at once those feelings that brewed in the times where my passion wasn’t present in my daily life. As of now, I write a poem a day, and contribute to some sort of larger narrative daily. As one who has experienced all of this, I want to encourage all of you whom create and are reading this to never stop, nor give up. In doing so, you’re damaging yourself and crushing a part of you, a gift that needs to give. So, please, for the sake of your health, pursue your passion.             

Jacob Cornell / In Defense of the Album, and Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Long-Form Music Releases As A Whole.

In the age where anyone can be a musician with as little as a laptop and a cheap mic, it’s no surprise that it’s also easier than ever to access exactly the music you want to hear exactly when you want to hear it. If you want to hear an artist’s newest single, you can tap the link they decide to spam on all of their social media. Or, better yet, within a few hours someone’s almost certainly ripped it and stuffed it into a low-quality YouTube video. Since new music is constantly being uploaded to the web, some artists are choosing to release their newest songs in the form of frequent singles or EP’s. While that approach is certainly SoundCloud and YouTube friendly, there’s an argument to be made for experiencing an artist’s fully developed release as a whole. This time of year it’s pretty common to see tons of discussion about which album was the “Album of the Year.” While there are usually a few common bands or artists whose fans will insist that they’ve written the best album of the year, it’s rare to find many publications or articles that will agree on their pick. Is that because some people have bad opinions? Maybe. Is it more so due to the fact that enjoyment of music is subjective and each person’s life, mood, experiences, and opinions will influence how they hear music and affect how their opinion of said music develops? Yep. That being said, why is AOTY even a discussion? If the release of music in the common scene is gravitating away from the album format as a whole, shouldn’t the discussion move away from whose album stood out the most or who had the most bangin’ bop of the year? Nope. The album, as an art form, will never and should never die. Aside from being an obvious way for artists to release a larger body of collective work, it’s a way for an artist to convey a deeper tone, story, or meaning. Rather than limiting themselves to what can fit into a single song, an artist is able to create an entire narrative around their release, some even going as far as creating an entire universe for their characters to live in. This is NOT something that can be accomplished in one song. Take The Wonder Years’ fourth album, The Greatest Generation as an example. In the album’s first single, “Passing Through a Screen Door,” singer/songwriter/musical genius Dan Campbell details the regret he feels regarding his comparative immaturity, his lack of a family, as well as the loneliness of how his life has developed. While Campbell’s lyricism certainly brings a lot of emotion and depth to the track, stopping at just this song and assuming this to be the theme of the entire album would be doing it a disservice. There’s two reasons, however, I won’t get too deep into an analysis of the album as a whole: One, because I couldn’t do it justice, and two, because if for some reason you haven’t listened to The Greatest Generation in order, you’ve made a huge mistake—stop reading and go put it on right now. In short, albums allow artists to channel their experience into art. Whether they choose to use that experience to tell stories, express their opinions, or create an atmosphere, a full-length album is the best format for doing so. The album will never, and should never die.

Elizabeth Stafford / Songs You Might Be Missing Out On

If you know me at all, you know I have opinions on music, and I love any excuse to share them. My Spotify playlist has a large collection of songs I have stumbled upon and listen to almost always. So if you are looking for some songs to spice up your daily playlist, check this list out.

Savage by Whethan (ft. MAX and Flux Pavilion)

The first thing that hits you in this song is Max’s silky smooth vocals. Max Schneider has a sweet, sensual voice guaranteed to make your knees weak. Once he slowly draws you in, that’s when Flux steps in with his signature dubstep. I know once I say “dubstep”, most people immediately veto the song. Just trust me. Between the vocals, beat, and Whethan’s masterful production, it’s a song you won’t want to quit listening to.

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OBSESSIVE by Chase Atlantic

This song is a flamboyant mixture of The 1975 and any addictive boyband you never want to let go. The band threw in a saxophone, pop beats, and some flirty lyrics to produce your next favorite jam. It’s definitely different than most stuff they have put out, but I honestly can’t take it off repeat.

Kiwi by Harry Styles

I am breathing out very heavily with frustration as I type this because I thought Harry Styles would be done ruining my life by now. Yet, here we are with one of the funkiest songs on the charts right now. This soul rock song with Rolling Stones influence has shaken up my life, and I couldn’t be happier seeing my favorite One Direction member blossom into an even bigger music icon.

You Are a Star by Citizen

To add some grunge to this list, I am throwing in a song of Citizen’s new As You Please album. I’m pretty sure I stood in my shower in silence for 20 minutes straight listening to this song the other night. The hypnotic rhythm easily wraps around you and pulls you into a dreary haze.

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Chateau by blackbear

Blackbear is honestly a perfect mess of an emo rapper and singer. I always find myself wanting to party in an LA penthouse anytime I turn this song on. His cold lyrics with the hard-hitting beats make you angry at an ex you never even had.

Disco Tits by Tove Lo

Honestly, the title of this song says it all. I don’t know what to say about this song other than it is one wild ride. Cheers to Tove Lo for being the fearless woman she is and creating this carefree single.

Vicodin by CVBZ

With under 2,000 Instagram followers on Instagram, it’s astounding how much people are sleeping on this guy. I don’t think I could even begin to tell you how many times I have played this song since I have found it. It’s one of those songs that is perfect for any occasion, whether it be getting ready to go out, daydreaming, or traveling to somewhere new. I’m anxiously waiting for him to blow up.

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Swoon by Beach Weather

This song is just downright sexy. The soft spoken vocals creep up on your skin and send chills down your spine. It has a beat you’ll find yourself swaying your hips to, the bridge of the song sends you into a pleasurable frenzy.

Elizabeth Stafford

Patrick Quiring / Dagny Interview

We recently got a chance to sit down and speak to the wonderful Norwegian pop sensation known as Dagny before her sold-out show with LANY at the historic Cain’s Ballroom in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma earlier last month. In it we discuss the difference between the music scenes in Europe and the United States, her current musical obsession, and how she writes her mesmerizing tunes. So sit back, relax, and join us for the ride as we talk to Dagny!

photo by  Patrick Quiring

photo by Patrick Quiring

Hey there, Dagny! How are you doing today?
I’m very Good. thank you! We’re in Austin at the moment.

Very cool. How is that going?
Very well. I mean we came in the bus last night, or well more in the morning so I haven’t really had a chance to properly check it out yet but so far it’s so good.

Oh great! You’re going to love Austin. Austin is an amazing city.
Oh, that’s what everybody says actually. Like a few guys from the band are from Austin and they’ll just like “oh, it’s such a cool city. You’ll love it”.  

Are you excited to be touring the U.S. by the way? Is this your first time here playing
music and touring around?

It’s the first time touring, but I have been here before quite a bit but like I’ve never done anything like touring the country before. You know? Like we’re going to so many cities. And like some cities that I’m going to, I’ll openly admit that I haven’t even heard about before the tour was planned. So I think I’m psyched that I’m going to get to explore in such a different way, but I’ve actually spent some time in L.A. before, and obviously New York and like some of the bigger cities too.

Since you’ve been going around the U.S. a lot does it differ a lot in your eyes as compared
to Europe? Like crowd or music wise?

Umm, I do think so in general, and this is super generalizing. This would probably not be proven if someone did research on it, but I do feel like people in America respond very well to like more mainstream pop. Well sometimes especially in Norway where I’m from it’s a very big scene of more of electronic and slightly darker more Nordic electronic sound. We don’t have so much like straight up pop. Compared to how we’ve done so far it’s been like a really good response from the audience. People are just so forward and they come up after the show and they’re so excited and you know they just show more appreciation, which is very nice.

So we’re like more open in a way?
Yeah, like more kind of forward in a way, but in a really nice way
 
Well that’s good to hear.
And another difference is obviously the size of it too. I mean I’m from Norway, which is a tiny country.  

I see I see. So, I've been digging into your music for a while now, and I've been wanting to ask
you a couple of questions about it. So I'd really love to learn what inspires you when you write music, and what motivates you? Your music has such a unique feel to it that it really has me curious about it.

Umm you know I get really inspired by the people that I work with. However, like I think that when I go into a session it’s all about the chemistry that you have with the person that you’re in the room with, and so a lot of the time I actually get really inspired by kind of my writing partner or whatever conversation that we have. So I think a lot of the stuff that I’ve been releasing it’s not just like songs that I feel particularly connected with. It’s also sessions that I felt particularly where I would get that extra special chemistry and energy between each other. Where you would leave that session where you would be like “Oh my god, I just made an amazing track with these people”. People I wanna keep in my life. And then I would say traveling as well is something that inspires me a lot. And you know, I’m hoping that we go on tour in the U.S. and then just write my whole fucking album based on this tour.

What is your favorite track you've written, and why? Is it still Backbeat or has it changed?
I mean, again, it’s like every song has its own story, and I’m proud of all of them, but right now I’m really loving “Wearing Nothing”, which was the latest single. I don’t know it was just kind of different, and it was (created) in a really very positive way, like a real challenge. And I feel now when we’re on this tour; whenever that comes up in the set, I’m like “Okay…. this feels good”. So right now I’m having a “Wearing Nothing” day if you could say that.
 
What inspired that song to come about would you say? What inspired that song to happen?
Um, you know we talked about this whole thing with connections between people? Like the chemistry between people. It was actually inspired by that feeling you get when you meet someone that makes you have that feeling where you just want to show them everything, and you just want to be completely bare with them. You just have like this magnetic energy between you both in a way.

Like you can just be completely vulnerable and honest with them?
Yeah! Exactly. Like you can be completely yourself, you can be completely open. You just want to tell them everything and show them everything. And I think we were kind of playing on that. Like that was the emotion, but then obviously playing on that in terms of like where even a simple piece of clothing is like too much space in between two people. Where you’re wanting to be completely bare in every sense of the word. So for us, we always wanted to keep that intimacy in it, and not make it too much in the word of naked, but more of in opening up to someone.

And being completely vulnerable with them and showing them your true self and just being
honest?

Exactly, that’s exactly right.

Wow, that’s so inspiring. I haven’t thought of that yet. It’s kind of inspiring.
Well yeah, it’s an inspiring emotion when you get it.

So whenever you write is there a certain person you write with or is it always changing? Does
that make sense?

Like my co-writers?

Yes! Is there one person you write with all the time, or is it always changing?
I used to, you know go to LA and I would go out there I would write with 60 different people.

Oh my gosh.
You would write with a lot of different people, but I think I’ve reached the point now where I’ve found the people that you connect with. I mean, (when you write with people) it’s like you put your everything on the table, and it’s like… “okay, listen to this story. We’re going to write about this”. And you know you’re a little bit out there when you’re in the sessions so I think when finding those people that can bring out the honesty and all the emotion, and find someone that you feel comfortable to talk about all the things that are going on in your life I think is important. So I’ve kind of found a group of people who I really connect with, and that inspire me and that I feel I can be open and honest with. So there's a group of people I would say that I always try to get in touch with when I have a chance, but I also totally like trying new people too because I obviously shouldn’t be against it.

Like closed off to new ideas?
Yeah, exactly. I write with a lot of Swedish people. It must be a Nordic thing that comes out.

I mean, they’re pretty great. Especially that one guy from the 90’s who wrote a ton of hit songs
from Sweden. If I remember correctly?

Yeah, Max Martin, right??

Yeah, Max Martin! He’s amazing at writing pop songs.
He’s like the songwriting guru, and his team is amazing. I’ve actually written with a ton of
people who work for him.

Oh, really?
Oh, yes. They have an amazing sense of pop music.

So, what makes a good pop song? Like, what are the parts that make an amazing pop song to
you? Is it lyrics or melody?

Ooooo, that’s a big question. If it makes me want to cry, or get up and dance I think we’re pretty much there. It’s either one or the other. Yeah, I don’t know. If I hear a song that makes me just want to fucking run down the street and feels like invisible and goes crazy in some weird musical way then that’s a good song.
 
Like it makes you want to just dance, and let loose but there’s still some melancholy behind it?
Yeah, absolutely. I love that mix of the melancholy and happy pop song that is mixed together. I think that is something I always try and achieve in my songs. That like really happy, uplifting or powerful thing, but with that slight touch of madness to it.
 
It kind of like touches your soul in that weird way of emotions?
Yeah, it does. It has kind of a hopeful sense to it. I always know when I found a new favorite pop song because I would listen to it non-stop for the next period of time, and then I’d wished I
wrote it of course. (laughs)

What are some songs you can’t get enough of right now?
Good question because the last week has been nothing but rehearsing and playing shows. Right now I’m on tour with LANY so I think there’s a good chance to say that I’m really loving their live show with having seen them now. What else have I been listening to? Let me picture my Spotify playlist. You know! Right now I’ve been having a throwback. You know Lana Del Ray? You know for some reason I never really caught on to her wave at first, but I saw her this summer and I’ve been listening to her loads. I’m a like a newborn Lana Del Ray fan.

Well there you go. So, what song are you listening to the most by her right now?
I’m really loving the song “Ride” right now. It’s like one of the songs I’ve listened to a million times, and I’m never sick of it. I saw her live in Oslo at the Øya Festival, and I was just like Holy Shit, what is this? What is this song?

Was just that good?
Yeah, it was like love at first listen.

Do you have a move you when do when you perform live?
Oh I have a move! I actually have a few moves. They’re very uncool, but for some reason, they kind of just work like the band would make fun of it, It’s like a weird thing I air drum a lot. Like I’ve always done it. Even when I was starting at 16 I’ve done it. I had a friend who used to play guitar, and I would just sing. There were only a few songs, but in my head, I could see the whole production.  So I would air drum while he would like be singing these acoustic ballads. So I’ve got a lot of weird moves.

Why'd you cover more, more, more? What drew you to cover that? It’s such a classic, but it’s
not Norwegian or Swedish so what made you want to cover it?

No, it’s not at all. Well when we made the Target commercial, which is what it was for
originally.

Ohh really? I had no idea.
So we kind of got this challenge to make this cover for the Target commercial, and it was really fun to work with something in that way because obviously, the result is so different from my own stuff. But then the fun part of it was trying to get this Target vision across in the music, and something that represents their brand. It was such a different way to go about making music that it was really fun, and it was something I really enjoyed by doing such a different challenge. You know? Sometimes it’s nice to take yourself out of your comfort zone, and outside of what you’re used to and what you normally do. And so I think we came out with a really fun and disco-inspired version of a great song.

And yeah, it totally makes sense with the whole “buying more items, and things.” that makes total sense now, and it’s kind of ingenious in a way, I remember that you said that you used to write more in the acoustic world, but now it seems like you’re doing mainly electronic stuff. What inspired that change, or did it just naturally happen?
I think it was natural. Like as I said I’m always kind of a little bit late to the party in every a sense of the word. I would like to just say before I say that I still think we make music that is quite organic and band driven in many ways. Like some of the recent recordings have been more electronic, but if you see us live it’s still very much like a band vibe with lots of energy, and real instruments because that’s what I love. So, I don’t know. I’m always discovering new ways to make music and like this more electronic approach to it has just expanded my world of sounds in the last two years since I’ve been able to write so much, and meet so many new people and producers and stuff. But in terms of this more singer-songwriter thing, I did before. I think that the reason why I wanted to go bigger sounding, more energetic, and more kind of punchy was it just kind of was more true to me. Like I’m not a really quiet, sit still person, and so it felt weird to  me to be on the stage and just sitting there with your acoustic guitar, and not get to move around.
 
It more was like a reflection of your personality then? Does that make sense??
Yeah, I mean I fucking love going to acoustic shows. I mean I still love going to singer-songwriter nights. Trying to discover new music and new songs. I would say the biggest transformation hasn’t really been going from an organic band driven to electronic. It’s just more been like going from a very, very small soundscape of like just an acoustic guitar to like making big, big pop songs, you know? and trying to make something that I can go on stage and let myself loose in a way. Because that’s what I want to do. I want to go up on stage, and for 40 minutes I just want to rock out, jump around, and sing and forget everything else

Now I'm going to give the mic to you so you can tell us anything you want to tell us. We are all
ears. What should we know from Dagny, herself? Is there anything that we didn't cover?

The most prudent thing I can say right now is if we’re coming to a city nearby, fucking come down to the show. We’re in America now, and we’re not in two months or in 3 months so if people want to come to the show then they should. I want to meet as many of them as I can on this tour.

photo by  Patrick Quiring

photo by Patrick Quiring

Make sure you check out Dagny on the rest of her tour across the U.S.! She
continues her tour at the Filmore in LA!

Patrick Quiring

Cheyenne Thomas / Would You Still Love Your Favorite Band If The Members Weren’t Attractive?

photo by  Ashley Houston

photo by Ashley Houston

Humans have always placed a high value on appearance. We like people that are attractive; It’s how we are wired. But I fear it has become less about the music and more about the attractiveness of the band. In genres like Pop, being good looking is among the highest of prerequisites to being a star; even above having any talent at all. That has been no mystery since the beginning of time. Ask yourselves this? When is the last time a new band came on to the scene and at least half of their members weren’t poster-child beautiful? I’ll wait...

Now there is nothing wrong with fangirling over how cute your favorite band members are, that’s all a part of the fun, but what is concerning is when attractiveness takes priority over talent. I’m not saying any of the above bands are not talented either. This is just food for thought. We can’t forget the days of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, or The Grateful Dead when it was all about pure, raw talent. Fans often didn’t even know what the band looked like. They were listening to the quality of the music alone. But on the other end, you could argue that sex appeal has always been a part of rock n roll. For every Roger Waters, there was also a Jim Morrison. Who’s to say what makes a band successful. In a way, being a rock star makes people seem more attractive alone. There’s no perfect equation for what equals success. Being good looking certainly, does help though

Cheyenne Thomas

Samantha Bass / My First Show

Photo by  Rickie McCanna

Photo by Rickie McCanna

How old were you when you went to your first show? I was twelve. It was Muse with Passion Pit, and on that day I could never imagine where I would be now. Growing up in the music scene was something different. I’m truly more open-minded, aware and tolerant compared to a lot of my friends who didn’t grow up with an accepting music scene. I’ve learned in my almost 20 years of life so much from people I met through music.

First, that everyone’s struggling with something. Don’t try and disguise it with happy Instagram posts and Snapchats, we all have demons. It truly shows in the lyrics and tones of your favorite bands. You can instantly tell what someone might be going through based on what they’re listening to. For example, a lot of people resonate with The Wonder Years and their themes of soul searching, trying to find out who you are even if you’re in your late twenties, which is generally when people “have their life together.” That’s also something to bond over, the struggles and hardships we all go through.

Second, that it isn’t too hard to show acceptance. Especially now, this scene has come together for oppressed communities and re-learned how to respect each other. Whether it be educating about slurs, gender pronouns, sexuality, feminism and oppression in general. I can personally say I was taught by a lot of people from the scene and although it isn’t their job to, it was incredibly helpful to shape who I am and how I approach and respect people.

Lastly, this scene has truly educated me on what different types of mental illnesses there are, and how to handle them. With organizations like To Write Love On Her Arms and Hope For The Day active in the alternative music scene, they have helped raise awareness and shown that there is hope at the end of the tunnel, even if it takes years to get there, and that there are people there to help.

This scene has grown and molded with me as I’ve grown up. It’s become a home for many people and some days I’m proud to be in it, while others I want to walk away. But that’s the thing about growing up, you make mistakes and you learn from them.

Samantha Bass

TJ Martinez / An Introduction

photo by  Matt Bender

photo by Matt Bender

tjmartinezphotography@gmail.com / @tjmartinezphoto

Hey, Y'all! I'm TJ Martinez, a new MNSTRM Media staff member. I want to jump right in with an introduction of who I am. I've been pursuing my dreams of music photography since June of 2016. It was on a terribly hot Friday night at a local dive bar where I took my first concert photos of a friend's band. Over the summer of '16, I became close with that band, tagging along with them to shows all over Texas. I'm a pretty confident and talkative person so networking came naturally for me. With that, I quickly branched out and started working with many other bands and publications.
It was over the course of that summer that fell in love for the first time. I was fully immersed in my work so no, it wasn't some boy that captured my heart- it was the music industry. I found myself at my happiest when I was doing anything involved with the music industry or my local music scene. I soaked in every moment of photographing artists I loved, partaking in passionate talks about all things music related, long car rides with artists to their shows, making new friends at concerts, band practices, late night food runs after gigs, and everything in between.
I was lucky enough to have that time between my sophomore and junior year of high school to devote my summer to learning everything I could about music photography. I'd spend hours every day researching and teaching myself as much as I could about music photography. Through the months, I’ve worked non-stop toward bettering myself as a photographer by exploring my art and pushing my limits to create the best work I can. Presently, I've shot over 100 artists at over 30 shows and 3 music festivals. I’m beyond proud of myself for how far I have come and can not wait to see what I will accomplish with MNSTRM!

Elizabeth Stafford / Please Stop Writing the EDM Scene Off as “Stupid”

When I dig deep into my music roots, I find classic rock. My father played
nothing but hair metal bands while growing up, and I listened to nothing but pop
punk in middle and high school. When I moved down to Tampa for college, I was
introduced to the wonder of the EDM scene. Since then, I have grown to float
between the punk community and EDM community of Tampa. One show you can
easily catch me in Vans and band tee, and the next concert I might be covered in
glitter and rave clothing. Warped Tour and EDC Orlando both offered an escape
and home to me, and many of my best memories rest in those moments of my life.
One thing that I have noticed is the strong opinion about the EDM lifestyle
from people who identify with rock music. Usually they say EDM is “stupid”.
They say it’s just a bunch of sounds and beeps and weird people. Whenever I
mention pop punk to my friends at raves, they usually shrug and say it isn’t their
thing but that they don’t mind it. I guess you could say this post is going to be a
shoutout to my fellow “rave baes” and explanation as to why it isn’t a stupid and
pointless scene.
Whether you like raving or not, you have probably seen a video on
Instagram of some DJ playing a set and the crowd going absolutely insane. One
thing undeniable about EDM is the unity within it. No matter where you come
from or what your background is, you don’t need to understand a certain language
or culture to enjoy electronic music. This overall understanding and connection
through a crowd can make an experience wonderful. I tell many friends skeptical
of electronic music to attend a show. With everyone moving, chanting, and
dancing together with the lights, smoke, heavy bass, and overall euphoria, you
can’t help but to feel free.
No, it isn’t just a bunch of drugs and frat bros. Yes, there may be some of
that involved, but it doesn’t make up the majority. I have been to many raves and
festivals and have never once taken ecstasy, acid, LSD, etc. Some of my friends
have partaken, but it definitely isn’t required to have a good time. Looking at the
people, many people are friendly. Unity and respect is heavily promoted in the
EDM community. People are often excited to meet each other, dance with each
other, pass out water to each other, and overall enhance each other’s experience.

The most important thing to me about an experience at an electronic show is
the immense amount of freedom I find. With everyone losing their mind, there’s no
room to be worried about what is happening outside of the show. The pounding
bass and sky-rocketing energy levels pull me in, and I completely forget who I am
for a couple hours. I dismiss all responsibilities and couldn’t care less about work,
school, or whatever else I must do. I only care about having a good experience. I
usually walk out of an electronic show covered in sweat, glitter, and popped
champagne, and the funny thing is, I love it.
The bottom line of what I am trying to say here is, I don’t mind if you don’t
like electronic music. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. What I do mind is someone
writing it off as stupid, pointless, or whatever else. I can confidently say the EDM
community provides a home for many people and has given me some of the best
moments of my life.

Elias Mohr / The Diversity and Acceptance of Punk: Tolerance of the Scene

photo by  Cheyenne Thomas

photo by Cheyenne Thomas

Punk is the most diverse (and accepting) scene that collective music has ever been graced with knowing. You can be street smart, or bookish. Maybe you’re dark and mysterious, or bubbly and outgoing. Is your wardrobe filled with thousands of dollars of tailor-made suits, or do you prefer to bunk naked in a dumpster behind a Denny’s? Does it matter? No! Punk doesn’t give a flying red fuck who you are! That’s its beauty: tolerance. Not just tolerance within its constituents’ appearance or acceptance of its main ideologies of nonconformity, Left-Liberalism, Anarchism, and Nihilism. I’m here to discuss its tolerance to not only those who lurk around societies outskirts but those who are traditionally seen as enemies to Punks being tolerated. Even those who lurk on the outer fringes of the figurative Punk acceptance list.

Punk is best known for its social conscientiousness and its political charge. However, did you know that Apolitical Punks exist? Punks… without an agenda? What?! It’s true! G.G. Allin, crazy as he was, was mostly Apolitical, apart from a few socially charged screams here and there. The Ramones were decidedly Apolitical as well. Johnny Ramone being a Conservative and Joey being a Liberal would’ve brought forth a terrible mix, had they decided to criticize the Man. Pop Punk disregards political ideals, opting to not be a casualty to society.

There’s a small subgenre within Punk that are both Christian and Conservative. They are literally the opposite of what most mainstream Punk stands for and perpetuates. Remarkably, they’re just as accepted as any other collective or individual!

Punk even has a small sub genre consisting of strictly Muslims. Known as Taqwacore, this small band of Punks is composed of bands which are made of members who are solely Arabic in descent. They have no one sound and some reject the label of Taqwacore as Islamophobic and racist. Nevertheless, I find it amazing that a group that has been marginalized to a great degree in America can find solace in Punk.

Whatever your beliefs, style, customs, or creed, Punk will accept seemingly anyone with open arms. It may be labeled as dirty, obnoxious, and loud; however, intolerance will never be compared with Punk. Its tolerance is its sole reason for its continuance and popularity, it’s the genre’s greatest attribute. It’s as well an attribute we can all add a little of into our lives.

 

Album Review / Adolescents / Manifest Density / Elias Mohr

The Adolescents are the epitome of West Coast Hardcore Punk. Hard, fast, rebellious, and unpredictable. Originating in Southern California in the early 1980’s, I was pleasantly surprized to see such an old-school, hard knocks Punk band roaming around the country. Let alone, on such a youth-riddled tour like Warped. Their latest release, Manifest Density, dropped early last month, quite abrupt and low-key. In fact, had I not searched through the catalog of bands attending Warped, I would’ve been completely ignorant of the album's existence. Kind of a soft release for a well-known Punk band, right? Anyway, let’s jump into this record. 

81TdE0OspdL._SL1200_.jpg

I dove in headfirst to track one: Escape from Planet Fuck. Intriguing title, no?  It’s fast-paced, treble heavy, and a great general par-for-the-course Punk tune. Classic ramblings of disparagement, displacement, and overall misanthropy are scattered throughout the opener. Unhappy Hour is an odd cacophony. It seems to emulate the delivery style of Minutemen, with an autotuned chorus, and a slew of out-of-place guitar solos. It’s as if they attempted to mix modern sound engineering, a classic Punk rhythm, and combine the two with sprinkles of Classic Rock. Were they attempting to gain mass appeal? Are they trying their best to not totally unleash their inner dad’s? I’m not sure what their motives were behind releasing this track, but I damn well know shredding solos don’t belong in Punk. Although, aside from the terrible combination, the message of “I can’t make you drink the water” is clear, and par Punk. 

Jacobs Ladder is a heavy anthem of alienation and youthful misdirection. A bit of an overrated message, considering their age and demographic. However, a yet again, mediocre track. Catfish has a delightful marching beat. The vocals are far more prominent than the previously mentioned tracks, allowing for the presumed feeling of self-disconnection and brokenness within the lyrics to emerge immediate, and clean. It’s relatable, emotional, and closed-off all at once. Vs brings the album to a close, in a victorious fashion. It’s an address to perseverance, an admirable ending to a subjectively down-trodden string of tracks.

As one may correctly assume, I was greatly unimpressed with this record. It was filled with pseudo-passionate riffs and lyrics. The composition, both musically and lyrically, appeared lazily written and loosely based around some sort of philosophic Punk journey through troubled times. It is Punk in its most distilled form. It is such mediocrity that it’s difficult to review. Simply put, The Adolescents are boring and approaching senior citizen status, and this album doesn’t hide that fact.

Elias Mohr

Talk Tuesday / Elizabeth Stafford / Music for Everyone

If there are any two things I enjoy, it’s good music and helping a cause. If you feel the same way I do, boy, do I have something for you. Stop what you’re doing now and check out the ACLU benefit music compilation, MUSIC FOR EVERYONE. It features many punk artists such as Taking Back Sunday, Frank Iero, Anthony Green from Circa Survive/Saosin, and so many more names you either know or should know! And not only does it feature great artists, the benefits go towards American Civil Liberties Union. If you aren’t totally clear on what the ACLU does, according to their website, they work “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” The compilation was wonderfully organized and put together by John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday, Hopeless Records, Collective Confusion Records, and the non-profit Sub City.

Focusing on the music itself, I enjoy that every song has a message focusing on a social issue, or several issues, we are experiencing as a country today. Whether it's homophobia, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, or whatever else, this compilation confronts all of it. Most of the songs are short and sweet and have a definite urgency about them. I, personally, listen to more pop punk stuff, but this album leans more towards the rowdy, raw punk side. A lot of the songs get your blood flowing and make you want to go make a change. Some songs are acoustic though if that’s more your speed. As a whole, I enjoy the continuous attitude of the compilation, and I think it is something worth benefitting. Whether you want to feel angsty or solemn, this compilation caters to all aspects of emotions while also showcasing many artists.

If you are interested, you can purchase the compilation for a minimum of 10 dollars at https://musicforeveryone.bandcamp.com/releases.